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My IDP scouting coverage continues with Oklahoma State’s cornerback Justin Gilbert.  Not only was he the first corner selected in the NFL Draft, but he also will get to play on the other side of the formation to all pro Cleveland Brown Joe gilbertHaden.  Gilbert has a unique skill set that will make him very impactful in dynasty IDP fantasy leagues that either start corner backs and/or reward return yardage.  I reviewed four of his 2013 college games against West Virginia, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Mississippi State to get an overall view of what makes him so dangerous and exciting.

I consider Gilbert as a poor man’s Deon Sanders.  What I mean by that is the young corner is a bit of a gambler, he dares any signal caller to throw his way.  Gilbert has a lot of swagger, strutting around that gets into his opponents heads.  Much like Neon Deon, the corner is not very helpful in run support.  He missed widely on some run designed blitzes.   Gilbert tends to overreact to motion and some ball fakes, but possesses the vision, speed, quickness, and loose hips to make up for those at the college level.  He might not be so lucky in the NFL, but I will say he can run faster backwards than most players can forwards.

The rookie plays physical in your face coverage.  Gilbert keeps his hands all over the receiver, trying to redirect and control where they are going.  He reads the quarterback and receiver’s eyes to get a beat on when the ball leave’s the quarterback’s hand or in the air.  Many times Gilbert will get to the highest point of the ball to catch the ball, getting in between the wide out and the pigskin.  The corner has powerful, soft hands and can contort himself into making difficult catches, much like any of his offensive counterparts.  If Gilbert cannot get in position to catch the ball, he does a great job of getting his arm between the receiver’s arms to rip or club the ball away.  He is better playing straight up man to man coverage, instead of zone.

When it comes to returning the ball, Gilbert is a terror.  He has good balance, finding running lanes quickly, and has the burst to get past the first wave of coverage with ease.  Once again like Sanders, he can spin out of trouble or hurdle over tacklers to get the most out of his returns.  So not only will he see a lot of targets playing opposite Haden, but he can be a difference maker in the return game.  This makes him my number one fantasy rookie cornerback.  I wouldn’t grab him too early, but you should be looking his way towards the end of the third or early fourth round of your fantasy rookie drafts.

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One Comment

  1. Nice piece. I also have Gilbert as my top fantasy rookie CB. We’ll know in a few years if he’s really a poor man’s Deon Sanders — but it’s a fair comparison.

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